Revenge Of The Bike Gnomes

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The bike gnomes are out there again criticizing The Bulldog for raising the issue of licensing, road-rule enforcement, education and fines.

Oh dear me. Why should cyclists help pay for bike infrastructure when other people will do it for them? And why should bikes adhere to the rules of the road? Cars don’t follow the rules and they get ticketed. Bikes? Well they’re different.

Sure many people would squawk when they’ve got a sweet deal and someone suggests that the deal is too sweet.

And that’s what our cycling enthusiasts are doing. Their devotion to cycling is cult-like. Love, peace, harmony and environmental bliss through cycling. But don’t touch our sweet deal or we’ll get nasty.

Case in point:

That’s quite a snarky little tweet, Erinn. That’s the way to convince people of the veracity of your argument. Alienate them.

Really, Erinn the only mistake in the two tweets was The Bulldog’s “sagging readership”. Oh dear, really? The mighty pooch’s readership increased by one-third in June with the advent of a number of new features.

Really the only question in your tweet is your inability to get your facts straight in 140 characters.

But there’s more … what a surprise:

Avery maintains the site The Vehicular Cyclist … now there’s a page-turner of a title.

The Vehicular Cyclist should carry the warning “Do not read while operating heavy equipment”.

Still one shouldn’t be snide. Having glanced at The Vehicular Cyclist, your agent is under-estimating Avery’s expertise in “yawn” material. The man knows dull.

And then we have rather contrasting opinions here. Avery says the post is dull. Erinn says The Bulldog is pandering to the cycling crowd to raise its circulation. That would make it interesting.

You folks really need to get together on this because The Bulldog is getting conflicting guidance and knows not what to do.

Or you folks are just mad about paying extra for things that you use and many others do not.

 


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37 thoughts on “Revenge Of The Bike Gnomes

  1. Issues need to be raised now and again.

    Once upon a time, I rode a motorcycle. There was no motorcycle driver’s licence .

    As motorcycles became more abundant, the Ontario government introduced new legislation that required a new class M license.

    Might be time for a new class B license.

    skoal,
    Chaz

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  2. Don’t worry about the Twitter snipers Ken. They take their shots from a safe distance, where the concept of safe is about them.

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  3. I love watching the cyclists lose their minds when someone steps up to question the cult.

    I went to The Vehicular Cyclist. First fact posted on his page is that only 2% of all head injuries in Ontario involve cyclists. With that information you’d think it was fine not wearing a helmet but statistics are a funny thing. A quick Google search and I found the Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington which quotes Canadian Brain Injury Association data saying that 85% of all cyclist deaths involve a brain injury. Go figure.

    As with most things, the extremists should be completely ignored.

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    1. Stats are not funny. They just get misused to hide facts. If the 85% of deaths were solely the result of a brain injury it might be a useful piece of knowledge, but only then if helmets were the panacea we are led to believe they are. Catastrophic cyclist injuries however usually result from a violent collision with a motor vehicle. When a cyclist gets mangled under the wheels of a bus, truck or car, it’s only a fool who thinks just one type of trauma contributed to the death and that the magic piece of plastic would have saved him.

      .

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      1. You’re right. Stats are not funny. They can be used by pretty much anyone to illustrate any point they wish to achieve depending on the light shone on them.

        I’m not fool enough to think that the 85 per cent is attributable to ‘only’ brain injury deaths but don’t you think it might make sense to rule out some of the contributing factors to those deaths with safety equipment if it were available? Should a cyclist survive such a collision, I’m sure they would much rather be coherent than suffering from some form of brain damage just because they wanted the wind rushing through their hair.

        Never been a fan of kool-aid myself but have at it if you want.

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        1. Avery, if you’re still reading this far I have a question for you that I hope you can answer because I honestly don’t know the motivation behind what’s happening.

          If helmets are of no use at all, why do Olympic cyclists wear them when they compete on an enclosed track? I’m thinking specifically of all those high speed short track competitions that happen in velodromes. There’s absolutely no threat of them being mangled by a more hostile force (eg. truck, car, etc) so why wear a helmet? Surely all those highly trained Olympic athletes must know something the great unwashed don’t?

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        2. You obviously thought the stat without qualification was meaningful. You could apply your argument to pedestrians, to car occupants, to those slipping in showers, etc. who suffer head injuries. What counts for individuals is absolute risk for themselves not some statistic that lacks context.

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  4. I had to smile at your latest post Ken. Maybe the skin’s a little thin this week? :)

    I wonder if you read my website comments from August 2016 and the linked article.

    LICENCE TO RIDE A BICYCLE? BICYCLE REGISTRATION? These old canards pop up every year or so almost everywhere in North America. Essentially such proposals are initiated by motorists and motivated by a hatred of cyclists. There’s not much new in Bikebiz’s article for those of us who have had to respond to the same ole, same ole, over the years, but it’s a reminder of the facetious arguments that regularly get regurgitated and used to attack cyclists.

    BikeBiz link http://www.bikebiz.com/news/read/bicycle-licensing-for-dummies/019971

    The licencing issue has been around for longer than I care to remember (and that’s a long time). As I said in a previous post, it ain’t gonna happen. Licencing has been studied to death and in practice has failed. Why be surprised? It could only be administered by … err, public servants … yawn, yawn.

    BTW, like any group you wish to name, cyclists don’t form a monolithic block. They are not all the same and certainly don’t all have the same understanding of the rules of the road. Neither do they all condone the behaviour and practices of the ones you describe. I’m invariably at odds with most of the views on the Twitter feed you posted which partly explains why I maintain the Vehicularcyclist.com website.

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    1. Avery, you say that the bicycle licensing issue is a discredited old canard, and it may very well be. Could you enlighten us on who discredited the issue, on what grounds? I have neither the time nor the inclination to read long dissertations written by sociology majors, and especially so when they contain opinions presented in the guise of unreferenced conclusions.

      On a related matter, there is a certain irony in referring to the people who are behind the license the bicyclists as “initiated by motorists and motivated by a hatred of cyclists” in one paragraph, while telling us that cyclists don’t form a monolithic block a couple of paragraphs later.

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      1. Avery:

        As you can see from Ron’s comments, this is a dangerous place if you don’t get your argument right.

        I’ve been on the receiving end many times. That said, it’s a great part of democracy.

        And it’s fun.

        cheers

        kgray

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      2. I’ve seen no evidence where licensing has been tried (including Ottawa) that it hasn’t been a waste of time and taxpayers money. So where’s the research you are citing?

        As for monolithic motorists, I’m a motorist myself and there’s nothing I’ve said that applies to all motorists. Licensing advocacy is a manifestation of some that is typically hateful.

        You guys just don’t get it. Your arguments are stale and boring. Licensing ain’t gonna happen.

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        1. Avery:

          Hateful? Hate writings are against the law. Were it hate, this site is moderated and it would not be on The Bulldog.

          Motorists don’t hate cyclists. I spend a lot of time trying not to hit them. I’ve got armour. They don’t. Got to be gentle.

          cheers

          kgray

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          1. Ken, I don’t know how much cycling you do but I do a lot … 10,000km a year. There are few rides I do which doesn’t involve at least one aggressive driver yelling abuse or using his vehicle as a means to intimidate. Just yesterday I had an idiot in a pickup attempt to make a dangerous pass from a narrow lane which almost ended up in a head on crash. He came roaring past me in a state of frenzy. There’s a lot of hate out there but clearly you don’t experience it. Calls for licencing are just another manifestation of it.

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            1. Avery:

              We could get into this discussion forever but there are bad drivers and bad cyclists.

              That said, I’m surprised when a cyclist follows the rules of the road completely.

              cheers

              kgray

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            2. Avery:

              People who call for user fees are haters, you say.

              That’s just ridiculous. People who call for user fees want people who use services to pay for them.

              Ice pads have user fees. I guess taxpayers hate kids.

              Really dumb argument, Avery.

              cheers

              kgray

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            3. Avery:

              If going to debate on this website, you’re going to have to come with better arguments than that.

              You’ll get eaten alive by the smart commenters here.

              cheers

              kgray

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  5. The ‘pay their share’ gambit is an old one that three minutes of googling would put down. Property owners pay for infrastructure, cyclists are more likely to be local property owners than drivers who generally travel further. Stuff like that is why New York taxes you when you enter the city and use the local people’s roads. If you are thinking of gas tax, electric cars cause more damage to infrastructure than bikes and don’t pay into that either. Licensing only pays for licensing bureaucracy. If you dislike those costs to gas cars, why not tackle those directly instead of by proxy through some imagined fight with cyclists? I used to love the gas lobby force of consumers in Ottawa, had the lowest gas prices in Ontario, now it’s a 30% overhead inside Ottawa limits. Now we just bickered amongst ourselves over common infrastructure issues.

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    1. Adam:

      Sounds like a wonderful argument for not paying your fair share for infrastructure you use.

      Cars pay extra taxes and fines. Sports teams rent fields. Community groups rent halls.

      But cyclists don’t need to help pay for millions of dollars of bike lanes.

      Sounds selfish and myopic.

      cheers

      kgray

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      1. That’s a lot of judgmental assumptions kgrey. I drive, I walk, I bike. I pay for all three. I live outside the core so I don’t get segregated bike infrastructure. My taxes still cover roads, sewer, water downtown, kids playgrounds, park lands and upkeep, giant rc dragons, the mayor’s parties, public transit and I don’t use any of those. I’m all for paying fair use, why not focus on use based taxation? Non-resident/employee tax booths based on the costs to maintain services for the mode of transport for the downtown, airport, surrounding wards. Property taxes that actually reflect the costs to maintain common services to that property. Would put a lot more $$ back in my pocket, maybe yours too (unless you live downtown, then I’m probably offsetting your costs of living ?). But really why such a focus on cycling infrastructure and little to no focus on the other major governance principals consuming your tax dollars if this is how you feel?

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        1. Adam:

          I think the question before the house at present is cycling and how angry they get when someone suggests they pay their fair share.

          We discuss all kinds of things here. Today it appears it is cycling.

          Tomorrow maybe how to apply a user fee on cyclists for the infrastructure they use.

          cheers

          kgray (with an ‘a’)

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    2. Adam, just because there is an article or three on Google doesn’t mean that the articles were written from an objective standpoint. As for your statement that cyclists are more likely to be local property owners than drivers, please cite an independent reference relevant to Canada, otherwise this is just another throw away opinion based on a set of assumptions that won’t stand the test of logic.

      In short, your comment supports the article’s underlying premise – people who have sweet deals frequently object when asked to pay more for those services.

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      1. Ron:

        Like you I get tired of reading so-called experts referenced in comments only to discover the author is Billy Bicycle.

        That’s not really honest.

        cheers

        kgray

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        1. I mean, if you need to be spoon fed an example… “The High Cost of Congestion in Canadian Cities” – Urban Transportation Task Force Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety April 2012. Stats Canada has numerous publications around moving people efficiently and the costs to taxpayers per km by mode of transit. The mto has released much on the limitations of continued expansion of roadways to accommodate transporting more people. I used to work with several of the contracted civil engineering firms that do the ground level design work for roadways. There is a lot of research behind why professional civil engineers are changing the design of roadways, not doing it just because a minority of voters want it thus. If these articles quoted more sources and facts perhaps that would give me reason to go on but right now the reference score is 1:0.
          I guess that’s a bit petty though, let’s talk common advancement of our perspectives. How would you guys envision a fair use taxation system working in Ottawa for all users of public space?

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          1. Adam:

            A whole new tax system. Come on.

            Really. How can you expect anyone to answer that in a comment?

            Ridiculous.

            Cheers

            kgray

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            1. I mean yeah, why not? Ideas have more power than rhetoric or links to other people’s research to enact change and build followers/commentators. Honestly, I mean I came to this blog to hear ideas, that’s what blogs are for and I’m sure you have valid ideas we could all, cyclists, drivers, walkers, taxpayers, ect find common ground within. Rhetoric only serves divisiveness to nobody’s benefit so my recommendation would be to give it a try.

              Sincerely,
              Adam

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              1. Adam, in response to your request for ideas on how to solve the bicycle lanes challenges, here are some of my ideas.

                There needs to be a better balance between direct routes and safety. Safety is accomplished by physically separating bicycles from motor vehicles. An old mentor of mine advised me that effective is doing the right thing. Efficiency is doing the right thing with fewer resources. One cannot be efficient without first being effective, because if you aren’t doing the right thing, then you are just wasting the resouces. All of that to say that green paint may be inexpensive, but it does not create a safe environment. As such, the money that city council spent was wasted.

                In central London (UK), in particular in the Bloomsbury and West End neighbourhoods, I noted that the bicycle lanes were on low traffic volume, one way side streets, with the cyclists travelling in the same direction as the vehicle traffic flow. There was a curb that further separated the bicycle lane from the vehicle lane. I do not recall seeing bicycle lanes on Euston Road, a nearby multi-lane, heavy volume, cross town route.

                In the case of Ottawa, the east-west cross town bicycle lanes could be on Gloucester and Nepean Streets, which are one way streets starting at Bronson at the west and ending at either Elgin or the Queen Elizabeth Driveway at the east. Both are close to the pedestrian/cycling bridge over the Rideau Canal, connecting to uOttawa and beyond. There may need to a connector along the Gloucester route near Bronson, as there is a school/park that breaks the street in to two pieces, but that is a solvable problem.

                As an alternative, I think the ideas presented by the City of Ottawa regarding the planned Baseline Road Rapid Transit upgrade is an acceptable alternative. Bicycle lanes would be adjacent to the vehicle roadway, but elevated to the same level as the sidewalk. The bicycle lanes and the sidewalk would be separated by a rumble strip in an effort to keep the cyclists and pedestrians separate.

                In both instances, the cyclist is taking a relatively direct route, as contrasted with a circuitous route that would discourage users, and they are physically separated from heavy traffic volumes.

                Paying for infrastructure is a challenging topic. Some people have a philosophical problem with funding local infrastructure with debt. Others, including me, are not as concerned, as long as the debt will be retired before the infrastructure reaches the end of its useful life. The key is matching the term. I am a fan of user fees or taxes. The key to user fees is that the governing body has to have the discipline to match the fees to the use. Governments have, over the course of the last four (or more) decades, not been willing, let alone able to maintain the discipline to match the term of the debt to the asset life, nor user fees to the assets being used. All too frequently, this is because the decision makers are more interested in pandering for votes than exercising fiscal discipline. As I said, it is a challenging topic.

                I trust that this has elevated the tone of the discussion, and I look forward to hearing your concrete (pun intended) ideas.

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            2. Ken, I have long held the opinion that for many people, the only fair tax is one that someone else pays more of than they do. When you boil it down, that is the basis of your article. People who get a sweet deal want to keep it that way, because someone else is paying more than they are.

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              1. Ron:

                It bothers me a great deal when I see parents paying for their children’s ice time or sports field time but people getting millions of dollars in infrastructure not paying a nickel.

                Maybe we should demand that bikes using city bike lanes have a sticker on their bike to show they have paid a user fee.

                cheers

                kgray

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          2. Adam, the material you have referenced relates to the types of costs incurred in support of people and products moving about. To summarize, it costs a lot to build a roadway and mass transit infrastructure. The costs are incurred by governments at all levels. To fund these costs, governments use tax dollars, from either somewhat direct (licensing fees, gas) taxes or generic (sales and income) taxes. In addition, they frequently borrow large sums to make up the funding deficit (Ken, please refrain from adding your $3.2B worth on the Ottawa LRT funding issue). None of this is news, nor is there much to debate about the general thesis. The arithmetic behind the studies is dependent on the underlying assumptions, notably the equation and variables therein, which are often manipulated to support the hypothesis, and thus can be debated until the climate changes (sarcasm intended).

            However, what these reports do not appear to address is whether licensing bicycles or their riders works, and if it does work, whether the contribution to the overall cost of building the infrastructure that the cyclists make joint use of would be meaningful.

            Back to you Adam on the actual question at hand. What are your independent, objectively sourced references that bicycle licensing does not work? As an aside, since you are intent on keeping score, on further review the initial call has been overruled as there was an ineligible referee on the field. The score remains 0-0.

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  6. As a motorist, my main fear is hitting a cyclist and the damage my vehicle can do.
    As a pedestrian, my main fear is the damage to me by any cyclist not following any type of rule.
    Agree with Chaz, time for a new license.

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  7. From the City of Toronto website, a brief history of licensing bicycles:

    The City of Toronto has investigated licensing cyclists on at least three occasions in the recent past:

    1984: focus on bike theft
    1992: focus on riding on sidewalks, traffic law compliance and couriers
    1996: focus on riding on sidewalks, traffic law compliance and couriers

    Licensing in the nineties has been most often discussed in response to concerns for pedestrian safety on sidewalks, where incidents of collisions, near misses, and a lack of courtesy have made many pedestrians, including seniors feel insecure.

    Each time the City has rejected licensing as a solution to the problem under discussion.

    The major reasons why licensing has been rejected are:

    The difficulty in keeping a database complete and current
    The difficulty in licensing children, given that they ride bikes too
    Licensing in and of itself does not change the behaviour of cyclists who are disobeying traffic laws.

    Every cyclist is different. They can’t all be painted with the same brush. You could use a similar argument for people who drive pickup trucks. Most are OK, but there are a few that are very aggressive. Do we need a separate licence for pickup trucks?

    Ron

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  8. I read comments about helmets, head injury, statistics, old studies, hate filled car drivers, etc..

    I am still left somewhat puzzled.

    One needs to pay a fee then pass a test before getting a license to drive a car.
    One needs to pay a fee then pass a test before getting a license to drive a scooter,
    One needs to pay a fee then pass a test before getting a license to drive a boat.

    Why shouldn’t one need to do likewise to drive a bicycle?

    How the government accounts for the fees or uses the fees is a separate question. Heck, they even get to keep the fee if you don’t pass the test.

    The test and the license are important parts. The test shows that one, at least, has some knowledge and the license is something that can be taken away if one abuses the rules too often. ( one can even have the car driver’s license affected by blowing over the limit while operating a canoe )

    Again, I can think of no logic that would treat one person, that is in charge of driving, differently from another.
    skoal,
    Chaz

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